Brock

Small wonder
he’s not been sighted all winter;   
this old brock’s
been to Normandy and back

through the tunnels and trenches   
of his subconscious.
His father fell victim
to mustard-gas at the Somme;

one of his sons lost a paw   
to a gin-trap at Lisbellaw:
another drills
on the Antrim hills’

still-molten lava
in a moth-eaten Balaclava.
An elaborate
system of foxholes and duckboards

leads to the terminal moraine   
of an ex-linen baron’s
croquet-lawn
where he’s part-time groundsman.

I would find it somewhat infra dig
to dismiss him simply as a pig   
or heed Gerald of Wales’
tall tales

of badgers keeping badger-slaves.   
For when he shuffles
across the esker
I glimpse my grandfather’s whiskers

stained with tobacco-pollen.
When he piddles against a bullaun   
I know he carries bovine TB
but what I see

is my father in his Sunday suit’s   
bespoke lime and lignite,
patrolling his now-diminished estate   
and taking stock of this and that.

Paul Muldoon, “Brock” from Poems 1968-1998. Copyright © 2001 by Paul Muldoon. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.
Source: Poems 1968-1998 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)